UW-Madison Bucky Wagon Project

September 26, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Same Classic Siren

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — markonfire @ 3:08 pm

The Bucky Wagon’s siren has been cleaned and polished to a new shine, but it’s still the same siren the wagon sounded in Camp Randall in 1973. Not only does it maintain the look of the wagon, the siren–along with the old headlights, which also are cleaned up originals–are some of the most valuable parts of the wagon, fetching several thousand dollars apiece when up for sale. Unfortunately, engineers designing fire engines in the 1930s weren’t all that concerned about electricity use, so the siren is a huge power draw. If left unchecked, that power draw could spell trouble for an all-electric vehicle, so Bower and his team have worked around the siren’s limitations: A controller will prevent the siren from wailing for too long or too often, depending on battery levels. A few short bursts might be kind of a bummer—but that’s certainly better than forcing the Spirit Squad to push the Bucky Wagon the rest of the way to its destination.

The siren has been cleaned up, but otherwise it will function the same as ever, flaws and all.

The siren has been cleaned up, but otherwise it will function the same as ever, flaws and all.

Mascot Bucky Badger and cheerleaders from the UW Spirit Squad drive along Regent Street in the Bucky Wagon before the Wisconsin vs. Penn State University football game at Camp Randall Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 11, 2008. Note the same siren on the hood.

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September 13, 2011

Building the Bucky Wagon: Tires and Rims

Filed under: Bucky Wagon — Tags: , , , , — markonfire @ 1:49 pm

Not everything about the Bucky Wagon could be faithfully brought over to the all-electric version. Most of the changes won’t be visible–the old motor, brakes and steering mechanisms had to go for obvious reasons, but their disappearance will not be immediately apparent to Badger fans watching the wagon glide by. But one necessary cosmetic change is being made to the wheels, specifically the wagon’s rims.

The original Bucky Wagon had split rims, the type that you might see on a tractor, with an outer rim supporting the tire and an inner rim that connects the axle and the tire. This makes tire changes possible without removing the entire wheel assembly, but the design of the rim places a tremendous amount of pressure on the bolts holding rims together. Changing split rims requires a level of experience that students working on the wagon might not have. And then there’s the small point that having students work with a rim nicknamed “the widow maker” probably wouldn’t be popular with parents and administrators.

Swapping the cumbersome old rims for new rims from Alcoa became a matter of necessity–they may not look like something that came off the assembly line in 1931, but the custom-made rims look pretty sharp just the same.

Glenn Bower explains the dangers of the old split rim design.

Glenn Bower explains the dangers of the old split rim design.

Shiny custom-made aluminum rims, courtesy of Alcoa.

Shiny custom-made aluminum rims, courtesy of Alcoa.

 

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